by Carlo Longino

You Mean Small Businesses Can Succeed Without Web Sites?

from the shocking! dept

The internet has certainly given a boost to many small business owners, either by opening up new business opportunities or by giving them a powerful and inexpensive marketing platform. Many others have chosen to stay offline for any number of reasons: they're not comfortable with technology, their customers aren't online, or they simply don't want to set up an online presence. Apparently the fact that businesses can not have an online presence and still be successful is a total surprise to the WSJ, which breathlessly declares "that being online isn't always a prerequisite for success." Who ever thought it was? The reporter seems genuinely shocked that small-business owners would stay offline, and even more so that they could succeed after doing so. This implies a belief many people seem to have: that being online is a silver bullet that will make a small business successful, regardless of any other factors. The internet exists as a tool for small business owners; some can use it to grow their businesses, while others can succeed without it. What's so surprising about that?

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  • identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 24 Apr 2007 @ 9:07pm

    The convenience store doesn't

    have to be online for me to visit and buy a tube of toothpaste, candy bar or Gallon of Milk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DJ Twiztid, 24 Apr 2007 @ 9:32pm

    A happy customer is the best customer!

    Can't beat the best advertisement on the planet. Word of mouth can out do internet, TV, radio or news paper anyday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Snapper, 24 Apr 2007 @ 10:25pm

    Businesses that have been established for some time and those like several of the ones mentioned in the article that don't have a lot of competition, won't benefit from a website. Or will they? As a designer it's my job to find a way for the web to benefit my clients.

    I have a DJ business as well and the decline I see in both industries hasn't effected me yet because I am honest and make an effort to offer my clients something that others won't.

    Those that feel they don't need a website haven't explored all the possibilities of how it could benefit their business, plain and simple.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Greg, 25 Apr 2007 @ 2:00am

    no phone

    I owned a very successful business for a while which didn't even have a phone. It was a coffee shop and was very profitable...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    sam, 25 Apr 2007 @ 2:24am


    there was a comment by a vp of yahoo a little while ago, where she stated that the small businesses "..don't get it.." in reference to the difficulty of getting small businesses to use online advertising.

    small businesses do in fact "get it".. what alot of them realize, is that online advertsing/web sites don't give any return, and in fact is a drag on their biz...

    a majority of small businesses that i've talked to have talked about working with local sales organizations, doing things like coupons, etc...

    a vast majority of small businesses are quite content to use the local yellow pages/local newspaper, printing out coupons using local coupon services...

    it's the yahoo/google who don't quite provide what the small businesses need/want in order to drive more sales... they don't want clicks.. they want actual sales!


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2007 @ 3:41am

    If i'm in a new city, which I am often, I will do a search online for a type of business, restaurant, etc. The business does not need a webpage, but If i dont see a listing online, at least as a yellow pages ad, I probobly wont end up there. however, there are many businesses that dont need my business, such as the local custom shoe store, mentioned in the ad, or the fabric store. More power to them!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2007 @ 5:11am

    in a town of about 2500, my father's accounting business has approximately 800 clients, and he has 2 satellite locations. why would he need a website? i think he has enough going on without one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    OKVol, 25 Apr 2007 @ 6:15am

    They don't need us?

    Wow, we may just fade awa...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sairen, 25 Apr 2007 @ 6:36am

    I think the real question the small business has to answer for itself is who is its clientele? A small town accountant and a general store cater mostly to local folks -- and that's great, why should they buy a website? But a mom-and-pop Bed & Breakfast or a local gift shop or a local honey bee farm that sells all-natural wax products.... those have a broader base and would do well to get their name out beyond the few people who live in town.
    Just the other day I was searching for a B&B to go to for an upcoming anniversary, and eliminated the options that didn't have a website. It was more difficult to get information from them, and since I have options, I don't need their services.

    Sure, small businesses CAN succeed, but there's definitely a group of small businesses who benefit enormously from trying out this 'Internet thing'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    chris (profile), 25 Apr 2007 @ 7:02am

    does it hurt?

    a website may or may not help your business, but can a website hurt your business?

    if it can, then perhaps you should make the decision carefully.

    but if it can't hurt, then why not? if it can't hurt, then it only has the potential to help.

    there is a difference between having a website about the products and services your business provides and e-commerce.

    if i am concerned that i will need customer service on a product, i will buy it locally. i will do this if i have questions about it, i am not sure it will work for me, or i want to see it in person before buying. these are all things that a website is horrible at delivering... but i would still like a website to get a list of available products, directions to the store, and maybe the hours of operation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ehrichweiss, 25 Apr 2007 @ 7:34am

    I have one..

    One of the businesses I run works better offline than it would online because shipping for the items is incredibly expensive; they're over-length and while I can have a ton of them shipped to me for $50 because they're not heavy, shipping one of them still incurs the "over length" fees and costs $15. So it's cheaper for me and my customers to provide my goods offline.

    Other stores that sell items like mine have gone to offering ridiculously low prices and then they hide the shipping costs till after you've entered your credit card information and are too damn tired to do that again before pressing the "buy" button.

    I can actually win customers over by pointing this fact out because many will say "but I can find it online for $15-20" and I reply "with $15-20 shipping" and they change their minds quickly about my pricing.

    Not everything is going to translate to the online world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    my head hurts, 25 Apr 2007 @ 11:44am

    No you don't.

    You could just provide the facts about the people selling online over selling offline. You don't actually have to sell online if you have a website. You could still point the people directly to your business and save them the shipping fee's.

    As long as you set up a website correct it CANNOT hurt your business but always can help it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anja, 25 Apr 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Visibility, visibility, visibility!

    Small shop, not quite central location, odd or irregular opening hours? You’ll need a central, accessible place to store your location, contact information and opening hours. Yellow pages or other (online) listings will not do, because you don’t control the data there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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